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FRESH CONNECTIONS.

Holiday travel can be a beast, especially if you have a layover at one of the West's busiest hubs. Denver and Los Angeles' international airports together serve nearly ISO million passengers a year, many of whom are passing through to catch a connecting flight. Here's our guide to make passing the time a bit easier and, dare we say, enjoyable.--Robin Rinaldi

DIGITAL BONUS Don't sweat a layover with our guide to the best airport eats, amenities, and more: sunset.com/airportguides.

2 HOURS

GRAB A TASTY BITE

Whether or not Cole's French Dip invented the classic sandwich--the topic of an ongoing dispute--is beside the point. The pork, turkey, or pastrami variations served au jus are worth a detour to the downtown eatery's outpost in Terminal 4. 213hospitality.com/coles.

The offshoot of Denver's beloved Root Down dishes up similarly global and whimsical fare--vegan posole, a hanger steak bento box, and brownie with chocolate ganache and black-tea caramel--in an aeronautical, midcentury setting on Concourse C. rootdowndia.com.

GET DISTRACTED

Keep an eye out for four-legged friends in red vests that say "Pet Me!" The therapy dogs are part of the 95-canine dream team called PUPs that wanders the gates and arrivals area with human volunteers daily to reduce traveler stress. fb.com//axpups.

Peruse one of the most impressive airport art collections in the world. Don't miss Alice Adams' Beaded Circle Crossing (at the B gates), whose massive aluminum arches and glass tubes pay homage to Native American tipis, beadmaking, and quillwork. flydenver.com/art.

5 HOURS GO LOCAL

LAX is 6.5 miles from Venice Beach Boardwalk. Uber it to Ocean Front Walk at Washington Boulevard to stroll the promenade. Snap a selfie on the pier and watch weight lifters and others do their quintessentially Californian thing. visitveniceca.com.

With 100-plus breweries and tap rooms, Denver is a craft-beer capital. Hop a 15-minute Lyft ride to Green Valley Ranch Beer Garden to sample Colorado pours around an outdoor firepit. gvrbeergarden.com.

8 HOURS

HEAD DOWNTOWN

Take a 45-minute rideshare to the Arts District nestled along the Los Angeles River. You'll totally feel like an Angeleno browsing the cool shops and galleries and tucking into the upmarket | Middle Eastern spreads at Bavel. bave/dtla.com.

From DIA, take the A Line train 30 minutes to the 38th & Blake Station to hit the River North Art District (RiNo). Boutiques, bars, and murals await, as does the pork-and-oyster sausage with whiskey grits at Julep.

ju/eprino.com.

12+ HOURS

CHECK IN HERE

The H Hotel--from the Curio Collection by Hilton Hotels & Resorts--opened nearby last year with alluring amenities: a gym, a heated outdoor pool, and a room-service robot called Hannah. Shuttles run 24/7. From $179; hhotellosange/es.com.

From the south side of the airport, head through an open-air plaza to the Westin Denver International Airport. The 519 well-appointed rooms with triple-paned windows overlook the runways but keep the noise out. From $232; westin denverairport.com.

Travel

Tasty Southwestern eats and striking scenery await you in the high desert. By Allison Young

PERFECT DAY

It's only a matter of time before Sedona trades its hippie aura for a hipster one. Located smack-dab in the middle of the Grand Canyon state, the low-key desert outpost seems primed for lovers of all things small-batch, artisanal, and vintage. Of course, it continues to draw visitors with its energy vortexes and crystal shops. Whether or not you believe in all that metaphysical stuff, you can relish hiking in Sedona's colorful forests, gazing at its stars and red rock cliffs, and dining on locally grown and foraged foods. (Want more? Book a hair-raising guided tour in a bubble gum-colored Jeep.)

8 A.M. Pump House Station Urban Eatery and Market (pumphouse station.com), cozy up to the stone fireplace and linger over delicate sugar-cinnamon crepes with homemade sage sausage and a lavender latte.

9 A.M. Drive scenic State 89A about 10 miles north to West Fork Trail (928/203-2900). This shady path winds through sandstone cliffs and oak and bigtooth maple trees. You'll cross the creek 13 times if you hike the entire 6.6 miles out-and-back, but there's no beauty lost in turning around at any point. Wear shoes built for water--and bring $10 cash for parking.

12 P.M. Park the car and snap a few #no-filter photos on the northeast side of Midgley Bridge, a 374-foot-long steel arch that carries traffic from cliff to cliff some 500 feet above Wilson Canyon.

1P.M. Back in town, refuel at Indian Gardens Cafe & Market find/an gardens.com), a 1 940s general store that's now a coffeehouse and shop adored by locals. Enjoy chicken posole and fresh-pressed cider for lunch. Try to save room for chocolate espresso cookies.

2:30 P.M. Go offroading with Pink Jeep Tours (from $59; pinlcadvenfure fours.com) for a close-up of iconic rock formations. For example, on the Broken Arrow Tour, guides armed with geology facts take you four-wheeling past Submarine and Mushroom Rocks. Reserve ahead, bundle up, and hang on.

4:30 P.M. Wander Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village (tlaq.com), a pueblo-style arcade where must-stops include Eisenart Innovations (928/204-6443) for funky metal sculptures and Esteban's (estebans sedona.com) for wind chimes and pottery made in town. Across the street, commission a souvenir picture of your aura at the Center for the New Age (sedonanewage sfore.com). This is Sedona, after all.

5:30 P.M. Sip a dusky-pink prickly pear margarita from the terrace and watch the red rocks turn purple at Che Ah Chi (928/204-6000). Tuck into braised bison with sweet-potato puree and search for the Kachina Woman hoodoo atop Boynton Canyon. Bonus points if you feel the energy vortex.

PERFECT NIGHT At affordable and convenient Red Agave Adventure Resort (from $179; redagaveresort.net), you get A-frames with kitchenettes, day hikes out the front door, and evening campfires for s'mores.
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Title Annotation:CHEAT SHEET; travel tips
Author:Rinaldi, Robin
Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2018
Words:988
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